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Covid-19: People caught gathering in public will be issued warning letters immediately, says Masagos

SINGAPORE — From Thursday (April 9), people who are caught gathering in public will be issued warning letters immediately before they are dispersed, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, as he lamented that Singaporeans are still not observing safe-distancing measures on the second day of the “circuit breaker”.

Covid-19: People caught gathering in public will be issued warning letters immediately, says Masagos

Mr Masagos Zulkifli said there are still "too many gatherings like this" in public places that had to be dispersed.

SINGAPORE — From Thursday (April 9), people who are caught gathering in public will be issued warning letters immediately before they are dispersed, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli, as he lamented that Singaporeans are still not observing safe-distancing measures on the second day of the “circuit breaker”.

A total of 3,000 advisories were issued on Wednesday, which was fewer than the 7,000 that were handed out on Tuesday.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday night, Mr Masagos said this was because the groups dispersed when they were  advised to by officers, not because there were fewer people breaching the rules.

“I know many of us are staying home. But our enforcement officers are still finding people, young and old, gathering in groups day and night on the second day of our circuit breaker,” he wrote.

“Exercise groups are still meeting in the parks. A good number still do not observe safe distancing when queueing, especially in the markets.

“These are where clusters of infections can be born… This is very worrying.”

Urging the public to take the circuit breaker seriously, Mr Masagos emphasised that enforcement officers will now be giving warning letters immediately before dispersing people who are in breach of the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020.

The law, which was fast-tracked in Parliament on Tuesday, came into force on Wednesday.

Subsequent infringements will incur a fine or prosecution in court, he added. Penalties include a six-month jail term and a S$10,000 fine.

Mr Masagoes had on Tuesday described the 7,000 advisories issued on the first day of circuit breaker as "very unfortunate and disappointing", adding that from Wednesday, the authorities will not hesitate to issue written stern warnings that will lead to fines for people who still continue to gather in public.

His latest caution on Wednesday follows the discovery of 142 new cases, the largest spike of Covid-19 numbers in a single day. Only two were imported cases from outside Singapore.

Mr Masagos called for everyone to work together, stay home, go out only for essentials and wear a mask when heading outside. “If we do all these, we can hope to see infections decrease over the next few weeks, and to go out more again after the circuit breaker ends,” he wrote on Wednesday.

“Almost all (of the cases today) were local ones,” he added. “We are already two days into the circuit breaker! If we continue like this, all our sacrifice will be in vain, and so too the S$5 billion Solidarity Budget.

“I'm sure we have the resolve to stay home. 26 days left. Let's show the world that we can!”

UPDATE ON ENFORCEMENT MEASURES

The 10,000 written advisories handed out since Tuesday were mostly issued in hawker centres, markets and public spaces in Housing and Development Board estates, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said in a statement.

Three written stern warnings were also given to people who had failed to comply with the stricter safe-distancing measures.

“One of these involved a male at Block 89 Redhill Close who sat down on a marked seat to take his meal. When asked to leave, he moved to another table to continue eating,” the ministry said.

It reiterated that people should stay home during the circuit-breaker period until May 4, and maintain a safe distance of 1m from others if they need to go out to buy food or essential items, or to see a doctor.

The ministry said: “Avoid going to popular wet markets. Shop for essential items on weekdays at non-peak hours to prevent crowding.

“We urge the elderly to stop visiting the wet markets, and to get others to help if they need food or essential items. This is to protect our elderly, who are the most vulnerable.”

A total of 15 markets have put in place crowd management measures, such as controlled entry and exit points, as of Wednesday, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a separate statement.

This means that the number of patrons who can enter each market at any time will be limited, depending on the size and availability of space at the various markets.

By Friday, such measures will be implemented at 25 other markets managed by NEA or NEA-appointed operators, covering half of all markets around Singapore.

NEA advised the public to adjust their marketing hours considering the long weekend, since April 10 falls on a Good Friday. The public should visit markets once every week, rather than daily or on alternate days, and should do so on weekdays when the crowd is 30 per cent lower than the weekends.

Said the agency: “If they must visit on weekends, they should consider going early since stalls open as early as 5am, and avoid the usual peak period between 7.30am and 10am.”

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus circuit breaker social distancing

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